By now I’m sure that you’d seen the “#metoo” floating around Facebook and all the other social media’s. I’ve seen some of my best friends post it, which includes some of the strongest women I know. The other day I even saw a man post a “#metoo”. There was even one girl calling out a man publicly for the first time that had assaulted her. I’ve read all the statuses, the heartbreak, sorrow, and your cries for help in putting an end to this. I’ve soaked it all in, unsure whether to share my #metoo or share how I’ve been on the giving end.
If you have ever had a one on one with me, you’ll know that I have lived many lives. I have held the most random jobs and thrown myself in the most random places. I’ve been everything from a bar manager to a legal assistant, retail manager, a housekeeper and so on. I actually cannot count on my two hands how many jobs I’ve had! Sometimes if you don’t jump and take a leap, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.
I have been in sexually harassed since I was probably 14 or 15 years old, maybe even younger. I’m so numb to it that I’ve lost track of when it possibly could have begun! That is sad! I grew up with brothers so it wasn’t uncommon for me to be around guys! I almost preferred it! They were straight shooters and called it like it was. Once you got used to it and “toughened” up a bit, this way of life made sense. Women, typically don’t operate this way.
Right there you can almost picture how the rest of this story goes. Men and women are different, I don’t need to tell you that. My story today is to admit, I have also used my sexuality in ways to get what I want. I’ve worn shirts to accentuate my breasts and stood a little too close. I have also made jokes that were inappropriate, you name it. Please do not take any of this as me making excuses for the behavior of men but I can also admit that I am not innocent.
I know that when you point a finger at someone else, you have three pointing back at you. I’ve put myself in situations that I knew weren’t going to end well. Years later, I was now jaded. I had been groped, gawked at, made comments about and I’ve been pressured. I also know that I was armed with information and have been able to make a choice to walk away or not be there in the first place and I haven’t made the right decision.
In the early 2000’s, within the bar industry, many men did not appreciate women with power. I paid the band out at the end of the night; I ended party, locked the safe, armed the alarm and held the keys to the whole operation. This was threatening! They made comments; they would test me and push to see if who could get me to cry.
As I mentioned, I became jaded, then I became numb and annoyed. What’s the old saying; if you can’t beat em… join them?! So I did! I developed some “edge” I toughened up! I learned their jokes, I spoke their “lingo” and when they pushed, I pushed back harder.
At one point, I too became the perpetrator myself. A certain band came back to town with the one member of the crew that was clearly intimidated by my “manhood” that he needed to try repeatedly to put me in my place. We would corner me and grope me while everyone stood by and watched. Finally sick of his crap, I decided to show him how it felt.
He approached me in front of everyone like he always did. He opened up his mouth to speak and I rushed towards him, pressing myself into him as I backed him into that same corner he liked to push me into. I grabbed a handful of manhood and squeezed as hard as I could. Then I put a finger to his lips to silence his groans of discomfort and leaned in closer and whispered in his ear. I won’t tell you what I said but rest assured he knew my place from thereon out. With my back to his crew, they stood and laughed as they watched his face twist in horror.
In that moment he felt about half of what I been feeling. At first, I was overjoyed, he was finally aware. Then I felt dirty. I thought beating him to his own game would be exhilarating, I would feel better but I felt worse because, in that moment, I realized I had become no better than him.
I looked at his crew and said, “I am someone’s daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter, cousin etc.; would you truly want someone treating one of yours that way?” I apologized to him, I wasn’t sorry that he finally figured it out, but I was sorry that I conducted myself that way. My words previously had meant nothing to him, no matter how many times I said no, stop, don’t, it never meant anything to him. He was insecure that a woman I could do almost the same things that he could do!
So now, I speak to you as the assaulted, the harassed, and the perpetrator. Never be afraid to use your voice, use it frequently and loudly. Don’t become numb and jaded. The world is far too beautiful to accept less than you KNOW you deserve. Stand up and speak about it. Remember that you ARE someone’s sister, daughter, niece; the more that we speak about it, the fewer chances these things have to happen to someone else’s daughter, sister or niece! Arm your daughters and sons with what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Teach your boys to be gentlemen and stand up for girls for they may one day provide them with their own daughter. Teach your girls that it is NEVER ok to let someone speak to you, or touch you or make you feel less than you would want your own daughter, mother, sister to feel.
So ya…. #metoo
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